UK immigrants face English tests
London, June 9, 2010
Immigrants from outside the European Union who marry British citizens and move to the UK will need to take a compulsory English language test first, under plans fast-tracked by the government on Wednesday.
The new rules were to have been introduced by the previous Labour government in 2011, but will now come into force in the autumn.
During their election campaign, the Conservatives said immigration is too high and pledged to take action.
All non-European migrants will need to demonstrate basic communication skills that enable them to integrate into society before being eligible for a visa.
The rules will apply to spouses, fiancees and unmarried couples who already live in Britain as well as new applicants.
Home Secretary Theresa May said being able to speak English was a pre-requisite for anyone wanting to settle in Britain. "The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services," she said in a statement.
"It is a privilege to come to the UK and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants and ensuring that those who benefit from being in Britain contribute to our society."
She said the measures were a first step in tightening up English language requirements across the visa system. "Today's announcement is one of a wide range of measures the new government is taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK, alongside a limit on work visas and an effective system for regulating the students who come here."
Officials say the measures are likely to impact the UK's Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities most. - Reuters